16 April 2020
A statement from the Revd Dr Barbara Glasson and Prof Clive Marsh, President and Vice-President of the Methodist Conference:
“The Covid19 pandemic brings home to us our common humanity. While in the UK we have struggled with being locked down, we are thankful that we have an excellent health service with tremendous staff. Our thoughts also go out to those living in war zones where health systems are unreliable and intensive treatments are often unavailable. Those whose lives have been disrupted by war now have to protect themselves from this new deadly threat. That is why we are supporting the UN Secretary General’s call for a global ceasefire.
“A global ceasefire will enable medics and nurses to access conflict areas and concentrate on the battle against Coronavirus. We urge that all parties to conflict give immediate priority to life and health and respond to the Secretary General’s call for a ceasefire. We ask our own government to work urgently, including within the UN Security Council, to make this call a reality.”
The UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, issued a call to parties to conflict everywhere to suspend military action and instead concentrate on protecting populations from the spread of COVID-19. Some militias and governments have responded positively. Ceasefires have been implemented in Cameroon, Central African Republic, Colombia, Libya, Myanmar, Philippines, South Sudan, Sudan, Ukraine and Yemen.
However many conflicts are regional and are sustained by the involvement of external military forces. The call for a global ceasefire seeks to persuade all governments that they must cease military activities and instead help mobilise humanitarian assistance to support vulnerable populations.
The UN Security Council has not so far endorsed this call. Its support would greatly strengthen the efforts of peace envoys and diplomats to bring about a suspension of military action.
Other statements from ecumenical partners are here.
Find out more about the issues involved here